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Microsoft Rolls Up Office, Exchange, SharePoint and Lync into Public Cloud

Office 365 limited Beta begins in 13 countries, GA in 40 countries next year

Microsoft has fired a furious fusillade across the bow of the good ship Google with the announcement today of Office 365, it's new cloud-based roll-up of Office, Exchange, SharePoint and Lync, the recently consolidated set of services for IM, voice messaging, and web-, audio-, and video-conferencing.  The new on-line productivity suite will be available through a limited beta in 13 countries and regions starting today, with general availability planned for some time next year in 40 countries..

Not wanting to cannibalize its premises-based business for Office et al too quickly, the new service is being strongly targeted at SMB customers with a pitch promoting low cost, easy access, and rich functionality.

"Office 365 is the best of everything we know about productivity, all in a single cloud service," said Kurt DelBene, president of the Office Division at Microsoft. "With Office 365, your local bakery can get enterprise-caliber software and services for the first time, while a multinational pharmaceutical company can reduce costs and more easily stay current with the latest innovations. People can focus on their business, while we and our partners take care of the technology."

The announcement goes on to say, "With Office 365 for small businesses, professionals and small companies with fewer than 25 employees can be up and running with Office Web Apps, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online and an external website in just 15 minutes, for $6 or 5.25 euros per user, per month."

Despite its terribly misleading, underwhelming name, the suite is an impressive agglomeration of functionality at an attractive price.  For as little as $2/month a user can subscribe to managed email services, and for the maximum price of $24/month/user the service include Office Professional Plus along with e-mail, voicemail, enterprise social networking, instant messaging, Web portals, extranets, voice conferencing and videoconferencing, web conferencing, 24x7 phone support, on-premises licenses, and more.

Later next year, Office 365 will be further expanded to include Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  Also some time next year, an acacemic version of the new suite will be made available to students, faculty and school employees, as well.  The site http://www.Office365.com goes live at noon Pacific today.

More Stories By Tim Negris

Tim Negris is SVP, Marketing & Sales at Yottamine Analytics, a pioneering Big Data machine learning software company. He occasionally authors software industry news analysis and insights on Ulitzer.com, is a 25-year technology industry veteran with expertise in software development, database, networking, social media, cloud computing, mobile apps, analytics, and other enabling technologies.

He is recognized for ability to rapidly translate complex technical information and concepts into compelling, actionable knowledge. He is also widely credited with coining the term and co-developing the concept of the “Thin Client” computing model while working for Larry Ellison in the early days of Oracle.

Tim has also held a variety of executive and consulting roles in a numerous start-ups, and several established companies, including Sybase, Oracle, HP, Dell, and IBM. He is a frequent contributor to a number of publications and sites, focusing on technologies and their applications, and has written a number of advanced software applications for social media, video streaming, and music education.

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